Thanks to social media, many of us “show up”, highlighting our strengths and ignoring our weaknesses, until we are unable to find ourselves in the pile of online applications. The problem of authenticity transcends the online space and enters right into our real lives. Some people try so hard to follow suit and adapt that they get lost. Especially at the age of puberty. Another problem is that, immersed in everyday life, few of them think about what is actually happening in their souls.
Does it sound familiar? Does the thought “who am I” sound scary to you? Do you think you are doing what you like, or does it just allow you to keep in touch with others? Can you really say what you like and dislike? If you have a problem with this, you are suffering from a real ” identity crisis ” that deserves attention.
What is an identity crisis?
Our identity is the way we define ourselves. It includes our values, beliefs and personality, covers the roles we play in society and the family, memories of the past and hopes for the future, hobbies and interests. Most of these things, of course, change over time. We can change schools, move to another community, or change our beliefs completely.
Then how do we know that our identity is real and stable?
In order to have a solid identity, we must be able to see that we are the same people as before and what we will be in the future (even with the changes available). We need to feel ourselves, no matter what our environment is. This does not mean acting in the same way all the time. We may know that we are gloomy, more distracted, stressed or nervous in different environments. We cannot say that we are the same in front of our romantic partner, friends and parents. But even with these different behaviors and moods, we know we are the same people inside.
A person without a sense of identity fails to feel the person who was, is and will be in the future. He does not feel the same and may even feel a completely different person within 24 hours. Some say they look in the mirror and find it hard to believe they see themselves.
Understandably, quite a few of us sometimes feel like we can’t recognize each other when faced with life’s challenges. If we lose our job or a loved one, if we have to move away from our loved ones – each of these things leaves us so stunned that we temporarily lose sight of ourselves. Fortunately, the real identity crisis is different and not everyone reaches it.
It leads to certain current behaviors throughout our conscious life and can be recognized. And since you may not be sure if you are not in a moment of bewilderment or are really going through a personal crisis , we present to your attention the signs of such.
You change along with the environment
If you study in a place where everyone is cold and quiet, then you are also cold and quiet. If the next activity requires you to be talkative optimists, you have soon become one. It is as if you are shaped by the middle rather than by your own choice.
Your relationship is fading
Not only are you completely passive outside of a relationship, but when you are in one, your hobbies and appearance change to match your partner’s. You convince yourself that what they prefer is your favorite, but until now you didn’t know it and even if you were a real rocker until yesterday, now you are ready to throw napkins at the discos. If your partner does not like something, then you are ready to give it up immediately, even if this thing is a close friend.
You often change your mind radically
This includes big things like political, religious and value beliefs, or just your opinion of popular “cool things” like food and fashion. You may find that your decision changes from day to day and think about what you will agree with next time. Whether you understand it or not, your opinion changes to give others what they want. Even if you do not agree with someone, at a certain level you find that it is a challenge to present an opinion that allows for debate.
You don’t like to be asked about yourself
When people ask you “too many questions,” you feel uncomfortable. You’re worried about giving the wrong answer. Maybe you have developed good tactics to avoid this, such as changing the subject or returning the questions to the interlocutor, and then agreeing with his opinion.
You get bored easily
At the heart of a lack of identity is often anxiety – as if you are afraid of taking the wrong position. This makes your life poorer instead of better (whatever your inner conviction is). The truth is, if you want to know who you are, the fear of self-discovery will be one of the things you need to overcome.
Your relationships do not develop in depth
If you are not sure who you are, you may have developed a fear that others will understand that you are “not something special” and will not like you. So protection emerges that prevents a real relationship with others, even if you tend to attract a lot of friends and maintain a large number of relationships. All this gradually grows and turns into a fear of intimacy.
It is possible that with deeper problems in relationships and your social circle, you will develop a tendency to communicate with people who control you and tell you what to do.
You do not believe in yourself deeply
With an identity crisis and a clear memory of past rapid changes in worldview, emotions and decisions, you may feel that you cannot trust yourself.
Why can there be a lack of identity?
Psychologists associate this problem with our childhood. Developmental psychologist Eric Erickson believes that the environment in which we grew up is crucial to building a sense of self-awareness and independence. He identified eight stages of psychosocial growth in humans. They are based on each other, and each offers a positive result if experienced “correctly” (if we fail to deal with it, it remains in our minds as an active conflict). Erickson uses the identity crisis mainly in his teens, when confusion is complemented by the roles we must learn to play in society and at the same time be true to ourselves.
If we do not have a healthy environment during childhood and early puberty to deal with conflict and learn the most important lessons, then the likelihood of our identity suffering increases more. Instead of being oriented and personally stable, we will enter adulthood confused and easy to manipulate.
Another extremely important stage, pointed out by Erickson, is in the first year of human life and is called “basic trust against distrust”. It consists in the fact that our relatives help us build a sense of trust. If we fail to emerge from this period with a victory of trust and conflict, then we believe that the world is unreliable and contradictory, which can lead to a feeling that we ourselves are unpredictable and unreliable. Not a single theory says that building trust at an early age is directly related to accepting and building a holistic view of the world in adolescence.
Is the lack of identity the real problem?
There are other obstacles that can create a deep identity crisis and must be taken into account.
What you look for as your value and the approval of others, instead of your own. In order for a person to gain such approval, personal moral norms tend to adapt to others, which simply shakes the sense of identity.
Destructive changes in behavior that manifest themselves in extremely contradictory actions and motives. For example, a usually calm, quiet person turns into a “partying beast” after 48 hours. This can confuse the person himself, under the pressure of inhomogeneous behavior (and the lack of any memories).
Borderline personality disorder
It involves extreme emotional reactions that get out of control, especially when you feel rejected by someone. This can leave the sufferer so sensitive that you can imagine that he is changing, depending on the wishes of others. Many people suffering from this disorder say they do not know who they are. There are quite severe personality disorders, such as schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder.
Are there therapies to help find meaning and identity?
If we are fighting for a sense of independence, psychoanalysis would be appropriate. Counseling offers an impartial, supportive environment that will help reveal why you are afraid to engage with an identity and discover how to listen to your own needs, preferences, and dislikes. You may want to consider psychodynamic psychotherapy, existential or Jungian.
Life is a constant development and at the same time we remain ourselves, it is not necessary to formulate exactly what is happening in every corner of our soul, but a problem with finding an identity can cause instability and a lasting feeling of stress and anxiety. It is most sensible to help find a “stable self,” because it will be both calmer and happier.